When I first heard about Lehigh’s Co-Op program, I thought that was the way to go. Gain work experience while in college? Don’t have to take any classes for a semester? Sign me up. However, after consulting with my adviser and upper-classmen, I’ve begun to reconsider and re-evaluate my options.
Lehigh’s Co-Op program, while very wonderful in it’s own right, limits you to what positions are available. Of course, the nice aspect is that you only compete against your fellow sophomores, rather than a nation-wide scale.
Internships, on the other hand, are the opposite. There are thousands, if not more, internship positions available to engineers. The only problem, is that there are students ranging from sophomores to fifth years all competing for those positions from universities across the nations.
One senior I talked to applied to hundreds of internships, and only heard back from about a dozen, and was only accepted into less than half of that. However, with summer internships, you don’t need to delay your education and cram classes in over the summer, which you would need to do if you were doing the Co-Op program.
There are also plenty of research opportunities. Lehigh’s undergraduate research program is one of the best funded in the entire nation, so definitely take advantage of that. Speak with your professors, get to know them better, and make sure you get a good grade in that class.